An initial corpus-driven analysis of the language of call center operators and customers

Martin John Warren

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This study adopts a corpus-driven approach to analysing patterns of spoken language use of operators and customers in the call centre industry. The data analysed come from a specialized corpus of inbound (i.e. from the USA) telephone service encounters collected in the Philippines. The paper employs some of the methodologies of corpus-driven analyses that are of practical relevance to practitioners in the call centre industry. It demonstrates the ways in which the findings of corpus linguistics research can contribute to our understanding of intercultural workplace communication, and so potentially lead to a better understanding of such communication practices. Some of the most frequently occur- ring patterns of language use are described and discussed in relation to the negotiation of situated meanings and the role played by small culture (Holliday 1999), in particular organizational culture. The contribution of institutionalized participant roles is found to be closely connected with issues of face management by operators and customers. It is shown that these patterns of language use can also help to identify key aspects of the communication process. Finally, the implications of some of the findings for the vocational training of call centre operators are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-97
Number of pages18
JournalESP Across Cultures
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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